Archive for category: Events

Gabby valentines — download, print and send!

Valentines are great for getting kids interacting with words–even simple ones like “Be my valentine.”

Illustrator Jan Dolby has created these lovely valentines featuring the characters from our Gabby picture book series.

Just click on the image to download and then print them on your colour printer. Enjoy–and Happy Valentine’s Day!

2016 Gabby Valentine's day cards (FINAL)Click on the image or click here to download:

Gabby Valentine’s Day cards 2016

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Authors for Indies Day May 2, 2015

authorsforindies logoThere are some HUGE reading events going on throughout Canada and the U.S. today.

Authors for Indies Day
More than 600 Canadian authors will be selling books and giving recommendations at independent bookstores. Check the website to find one near you. I’ll be at Book City at Yonge and St. Clair in Toronto today from 10 until noon. Come and join us!

Free Comic Book Day
As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also the day when you can visit a comic book store and get FREE comic books!

So really, there’s no excuse not to grab the kids and get outside–and read!

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Connect with books by attending a book launch

This picture was taken at my first book launch, for Gabby, at the Intergalactic Travel Authority (cafe and literacy centre) in Toronto.

This picture was taken at my first book launch, for “Gabby,” at the Intergalactic Travel Authority (cafe and literacy centre) in Toronto. Kids also got to meet Gabby’s illustrator, Jan Dolby, who signed books and talked about her process.

If you’re trying to get your kid to read more, a great way to do that is to connect them to the book, in real life. And one of the best ways to do that is to attend a book launch.

Some facts about book launches
1) They’re free! (And they even sometimes have cake! And it’s free!)

2) You don’t need an invitation! Authors want you there–in fact, the more the merrier.

3) If it’s a launch for a children’s book, there will almost certainly be great children’s crafts or other activities there. (Yep, for free!)

4) You should probably plan on buying a copy of the book (although it’s not mandatory). But bring a twenty.

5) After you buy the book, you can get the author to sign it! And personalize it for your child.

So now your child has a brand-new book with a personalized message to them, they’ll have the author’s autograph, they’ll have eaten cake, and they will probably come away with a bookmark or a sticker as well and maybe they’ll even have done a book-related craft. Think they’ll read that book? Heck, you’ll be lucky if they haven’t read the whole thing by the time you get home! And you may as well just turn the car around because you’ll need to go back to the bookstore to buy the rest of the books in the series because your kid will be clamouring for them as well.

Oh heck, ya, there's gonna be cake! At my second launch (for Gabby: Drama Queen) the cake featured toppers by plasticine artist Suzanne Del Rizzo.

Oh heck, ya, there’s gonna be cake! At my second launch (for Gabby: Drama Queen) the cake featured toppers by plasticine artist Suzanne Del Rizzo.

Where can you find out about book launches?
1) Follow your child’s favourite authors and illustrators on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads or through their author site. They’ll let you know when they have a new book coming out.

2) Follow some kidlit publishers on social media, such as: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Lorimer, Owlkids, Groundwood, Scholastic and there are zillions more. Just search for them on Facebook and Like their pages–you’ll soon hear about upcoming book launches. Check your child’s favourite books to see who published them, and then follow them on Twitter or Facebook. For instance, I just went to the Fitzhenry & Whiteside (my “Gabby” publisher) FB page and found this upcoming book launch for a picture book called The Old Ways, which will be at Mabel’s Fables in Toronto on April 22.

3) Ask at your local bookstore about what children’s book launches they’ve got coming up.

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Zowie!! May 3 is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY

Free Comic Book Day logoThe first Saturday in May each year is free comic book day.


Go into most major comic book stores in North America (heck, maybe the world!) and get a free comic book.

Do comic books get kids reading? Heck, ya!

If you’re in Toronto, check out Little Island Comics (Bathurst south of Bloor) for younger readers or The Beguiling and pick up a free comic book. They’ll also have visits from comic book writers and artists. There are lots of other comic book stores in Toronto and area (like The Labyrinth, for instance) but those happen to be the ones I know fairly well.

If you’re not in Toronto — and I know that dozens of you aren’t — Google it! Find a store! Get a comic! Bring the kids! Biff! Baff! Zowie!

But don’t take my word for it, here’s Stan Lee to tell ya:

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More about the three important literacy boosters

49th shelf logoWe’ve talked before on GKR about the three most important things you can do for your kids to get them reading.

(Hint – there’re in the sidebar, over there on the right-hand side!)

The fine people at 49th Shelf, a Canadian literature site, have allowed me to talk a bit about them. Just in time for Family Literacy Day, Jan. 27.

(If you’re not familiar with 49th Shelf, get yerself on over there and check it out. It’s a terrific website that promotes Canadian literature.)

And by the way, if you’re looking for something to do to celebrate Literacy Day this weekend, come on down to my book launch for Gabby.

It’s this Sunday at 1:00 at the International Travel Authority cafe, 1165 Bloor St. W., Toronto. There’ll be cake!


Here’s the article on 49th Shelf.

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World Read-Aloud Day is Wed., March 7

wrad2012badgeIt’s very important to read to your child.

In fact, we consider it one of the top three most important things you can do to help your kid develop a love of reading.

Every day – but especially on Wed., March 7 – take the time to read to your child.

Or even someone else’s. Or a bunch of kids. There’s no downside – and a huge upside.

More information on WRAD here.

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Every Canadian in grade one gets a free book in October

Barbara Reid, Alan Convery (TD), Jo Ellen Bogart, Charlotte Teeple (Exec, Dir. CCBC); image: Joyce Grant
Barbara Reid, Alan Convery (TD), Jo Ellen Bogart, Charlotte Teeple (Exec, Dir. CCBC); image: Joyce Grant

This month, every grade-one child in Canada will receive a free book.

That’s every grade-one child, including those home-schooled, or in any school in the country, private or public.

What’s the catch? There is no catch. This has been going on every year for the past 11 years. A pile of books arrives for the grade ones (and twos, if it’s a split class). That’s more than half a million books—the biggest print run in Canada.

It’s a joint project with TD Bank Group and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC). TD picks up the $1-million-plus tab for most of the program.

And it’s always such a great book. This year, it’s Gifts (Cadeaux, translated into French), by Jo Ellen Bogart and plasticine artist Barbara Reid.

Gifts is a book that kids will read over and over again—with an adult or by themselves. It’s great for shared reading because it’s full of lyrical phrases. It’s also great for kids to discover and re-discover because the words and the images have lots of things hidden in them to be found.

Gifts tells the story of a grandmother who travels to different countries over the course of a number of years. She asks her granddaughter, “What would you have me bring?” with the granddaughter asking for impossible souvenirs like, “a rainbow to wear as a ring” from Hawaii and “an iceberg on a string” from the Arctic.Gifts (cover)

Grandma is incredibly inventive as she comes up with solutions for each request.

The book follows the pair as they both grow older, eventually ending with the girl now a fully-grown adult with a daughter of her own.

There are lots of reasons to get teary-eyed, here. (Not that I am. My contacts are just a bit scratchy.) First, there’s the wonderful, multi-layered story. Then there are the colourful, detailed plasticine images. Then there’s the 500,000 free books. And then there’s this story:

The CCBC and TD get tons of fan letters after they distribute the books each year. One in particular stands out in the memory of TD rep’s Alan Convery.

They’d just distributed the bGifts, excerptooks, a little before the Christmas season a couple of years ago. Convery got a letter from a principal in the Northwest Territories, thanking him. She said that for most of the children, this would be the first book that they would own. And then she added that this would also be the only Christmas gift many of the children would receive that year, since the families in that particular community were having trouble making ends meet.

(The CCBC later shipped the community another supply of different children’s books.)

It’s so important for kids to own their own books. It empowers them. It lets them feel entitled to use books. And statistics show very clearly that there is a link between kids who have their own books and those who go on to higher education.


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Happy Family Literacy Day, Canada!

Today is Family Literacy Day.

Bookmark, from’s a great day to… click on “15-minute ideas” or “Games” or “Crafts” in our tags and find a wonderful activity you can do with your kids that will help to get them reading.

At our school, a parent contacted the local library, which is having a bookmark-making contest. They gave us blank bookmarks and forms for all the kids at our school so they can enter the library contest. Fun!

More about FLD here.

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Happy Family Literacy Day

This is the day.

The day you and your child read together for at least 15 minutes.
The day you buy her a magazine, out of the blue.
The day you help your child write a letter (or an e-mail) to gramma.
The day you listen to your daughter read a book.
The day you subscribe online to ChickaDEE.
The day you set aside some books to donate to the Children’s Book Bank.
The day you read the newspaper with your son.

The day you take a few moments to help your child be a better reader.

My son and I will be reading Harry Potter tonight. Last night Snape confiscated Harry’s potion because he forgot to put hellebore syrup in his Draught of Peace. Tonight, I think we’re going to have to sit through Professor Umbridge’s class. She looks like a toad, with a pale complexion, runny eyes, a slit for a mouth and she always dresses in fluffy pink cardigans. Blech.

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Family Literacy Day is Jan. 27

Tomorrow is Family Literacy Day

Celebrate and foster literacy in your home by:
*Reading with your kids;
*Creating a story together;
*Explaining some current events to them;
*Giving them a book or a magazine; or
*Letting them read to you.

I read the five Robert Munsch books to my son (see last post) and we entered our names to help Canada beat the US’s “reading to children” record. Since more than 190,000 people registered, it’s possible we blew that record out of the water. Oooh, literacy can get so competitive!

Even though my son has heard those Munsch books zillions of times, we had a great time reading them together. And in “Mortimer,” every time the parents put him to bed, our whole family sang at the top of our lungs, “Clang, clang, rattle bing-bang – gonna make my noise all day!” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then here’s your FLD assignment: Read Robert Munsch’s Mortimer. You’ll be glad you did.

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